Everyone's talking about the citizen journalism movement these days. Getting the masses to contribute their perspectives on politics is vital, some say, to getting people to take the issues seriously.
But when it's not limited to politics, the ordinary citizen might just blather on and on about celebrity gossip or what they ate for breakfast. A line has to be drawn between journalism and diarrhea of the mouth.
Or maybe not...An interesting concept that builds itself off of user-generated content is Halser Minor's newest initiative. Minor is the founder of the technology news site CNet.com and had all but buried print magazines in his many posts about the downfall of print media.
But history has a way of repeating itself as Mr. Minor now finds himself publishing magazines, again. His publishing company, 8020 Publishing, aspires to be "an empire of Web-generated print magazines".
The magazines, JPG and Everywhere are branded as "magazines created by you".
Focused on photography and travel respectively, the magazines pull content for the print magazine from the stories submitted by readers. Online readers vote for their favorites and those that "win" get published.
A small design staff then lays it out and prints a very small run of 50,000 copies. They do this six times a year, selling via subscriptions and on newsstands.
You can read the magazine online at no cost, as well as download and print a PDF of the issue "because the publishers assume that physically holding a high-quality magazine is more satisfying than viewing it online and therefore will not cannibalize newsstand sales".
Everything is up for grabs: submitted stories and photos as well as user comments. While anything can end up in print, the point of such an endeavor is fuzzy.
Minor insists that it's not "about getting cheap content into a magazine", but that "seeing their own work in print makes people feel like part of a community”.
I guess it's fair to say that ever since the dawn of the Internet, community has been its innate quality, unifying people around the world.
And poor print was left alone, with its moments of solitary comfort for the reader. JPG and Everywhere are trying hard to maintain that not only is print alive and well, it can establish its own community as well.